January 30, 2009

Soap Final Stage Pictures

I thought I would share pictures of the final steps of the "How to make soap at home" blog I posted the other day. This is the following day and as you can see our goat's milk soap is now set up in the mold and ready to come out. This picture was taken in the more natural lighting from the window.

This is the soap cut into bars and set up to cure for 4 - 6 weeks before use. The two rows of soap in the front are from the batch I made during the soap tutorial the other day and the soap in the back of the picture is some I had made a couple days before. It is important to space them apart a little for curing.

Sweet Barbecue Venison Meatballs


1 lb venison

1/2 C. Chopped Onion

1/4 C. Milk

1 C. Crushed Crackers

1 Egg

1/2 tsp. Pepper

1 tsp Salt

1 Tbs. Worcestershire Sauce

1 Tbs. Soy Sauce

Mix all ingredients together and form 2 inch

meatballs and put in a square baking dish.

Sweet Barbecue Sauce

1 C. Ketchup

1 C. Brown Sugar

1/4 C. vinegar

1/2 Tbs . Mustard

1/2 Tbs. Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 Tbs. Soy Sauce

Mix all ingredients together and pour over

meatballs. Bake at 350 for 1 hour basting

occasionally. Serve over white rice.

* I am not a big fan of the taste of venison alone. You won't catch me eating a deer meat hamburger. Call me picky but I just can't get past that slightly gamey taste. That said, I do really like these meatballs. They are a bit sweet and I can't taste the gamey deer flavor at all with this recipe!

January 29, 2009

My Favorite Guys - Farm Photo of the Week

This is a picture of my absolute two favorite guys on the farm, my husband Jamey and my favorite dog Dreyfus. Who is enjoying a belly rub in this picture. Dreyfus is a Great Pyrenees and one of our livestock guardian dogs. He is a very special fellow. We try not to go overboard with the attention to our working dogs as not to distract from their bond with the goats, but Dreyfus has always been able to balance getting his attention and a belly rub and then going back to his goats on his own. Jamey is pretty awesome too, we met my first year in high school and have been together ever since. He has an amazing sense of humor and is pretty special too.

January 28, 2009

How to Make Soap at Home

Soap is made by mixing lye, also called sodium hydroxide and a liquid (my choice is goat's milk) with fats or oil. This causes a complex chemical reaction in which lye converts the fats to soap. This process is called saponification. The method that I use to make soap is called the cold process method.


Lye is the key ingredient needed to make soap, and lots of soap makers use it every day to make soap at home with no problems at all, but if mishandled it can be a dangerous chemical. The following is important safety precautions when working with lye.

1. Never pour your liquid into lye, always pour lye into the liquid, carefully. If you pour your liquid onto lye it can cause a violent reaction.
2. Be careful not to splash or spill the lye solution.
3. Work in a well ventilated room.
4. When handling lye always wear goggles, rubber gloves and long sleeves.
5. If any lye solution comes into contact with your skin you should immediately rinse it with vinegar and then with cold water.
6. Keep out of reach of children and pets. Young children and pets should not be in the room at all while you are using lye.
7. Store lye in a locked cabinet if you have young children or pets as lye can be fatal if swallowed.
8. Use soap making equipment just for soap making. As in, you don't want to use the same stick blender on soap then for cooking food.

I did not share that with you to scare you, but safety is an important part of making soap. Now that you know what safety precautions to take we can get to the fun part, making soap!

What you will need

* Pair of safety goggles, long sleeved shirt and rubber gloves.
* White vinegar in a spray bottle.
* Scale that weighs in grams, and with the "tare" feature.
*3 sturdy plastic pitchers or extra large glass heat resistant measuring containers. (1 for milk, 1 for weighing lye & one for weighing oils in).
*Sturdy plastic stirring spoons, one for oils & one for the lye/water mix.
*2 Sturdy plastic spatulas.
*2 stainless steel thermometers.
*Large stainless steel pot to melt oils in. (Do not use aluminum pots)
*Freezer paper if using a wooden soap mold.
*Soap molds.
* Stick blender. (OK..you can make soap without one, but take it from someone who has...it really speeds up the process!)

The next thing you will need is a soap recipe and the ingredients for it. Soap recipes can be found online and in books or you can design your own, the important thing is to always check your recipe by running it through a lye calculator. (Even ones found in books! Just to be on the safe side) Just google "Lye Calculator".

Here is a recipe I used when I first started making soap. The thing I like best about this recipe is the ingredients, except for the lye can all be found at Wal-Mart or your local grocery store and this makes it a good beginner recipe to use. Since there is now restrictions because some people use lye in making drugs, lye (and many other useful things) is now much harder to find and more expensive to buy than it once was for those of us using it for legitimate purposes. (But that is a rant for another day!) Lye can be bought online, many soap supply companies such as Brambleberry sell it.

Crisco Soap Recipe

*I weigh my ingredients in grams, this is the most accurate way to weigh them, especially when working with small batches.

Lye - 172 grams
Goat's milk - 425grams
Coconut Oil - 256 grams
Olive Oil - 510 grams
Shortening (Crisco) 368 grams
Safflower oil - 128 grams * The original recipe called for Sunflower oil, but it can no longer be found at Wal-Mart.

Step 1. Set up your molds. If you are using a wooden mold, line it with freezer paper. Set out and organize all your equipment and ingredients.
Note: I do things a little bit backwards from many. Most of the time you would want to mix your lye/water solution first as it gets very hot and takes some time to cool down. However, I use goat's milk instead of water and I make sure it is VERY cold, in fact I put it in the freezer ahead of time until it gets just "slushy". So I don't end up with dark brown, "cooked" goat's milk. For this reason my lye/milk solution does not get nearly as hot as if you were using water & it cools fairly quickly, so I actually start heating my oils up first.

Step. 2 Weigh all your liquid & solid oils and pour into a large stainless steel pot that is on the stove burner. Use a spatula to scrape all the solid oils into the pot. Turn the burner on low, to start warming your oils and melting the solid ones, ensure solid oils are completely melted.

Step 3. While my oils are warming up I weigh my lye for my recipe. You should have your gloves and goggles on before this step. Note: Red Devil lye can no longer be found at hardware stores, I now buy it in larger amounts in bulk online and I put what I need for a few recipes at a time into the smaller Red Devil lye container I had from the past for ease of use. And yes, between the pea yellow- green counters and funky, retro brown, 70's wallpaper..I do know I have a beautiful kitchen, it is why I bought the place really... but please save your compliments on my decor...lets concentrate on our soap batch here. ;-)

Step 4 Carefully and slowly add your lye to your goat's milk. Never reverse the process by adding your liquid to your lye, always add the lye to the liquid. When using milk make sure it is very cold, I put mine in the freezer to get it slightly slushy first. This keeps the milk from getting over-heated. Stir until the lye is completely dissolved.

Step 5. By this time my oils have completely melted and usually heated up to 130 degrees or so. I turn the burner off on the stove. I give the oils a gentle stir then monitor the temperature of both my oils and the lye solution until both are about 110 degrees. At that time I then slowly and carefully pour my lye solution into my pot with my oils and stir it for several minutes anyway. Remember to put any equipment with raw soap or lye solution in the sink for safety and easy clean up later.

Step 6. Time to break out the stick blender, unless you don't have one...then you can still make soap but get prepared for A LOT of stirring! Lucky you! After making one batch without one, I went out and bought one and I think the person who thought of using them must surely be a genius. OK..I love stick blenders..back to business at hand. Make sure your stick blender is in the oils before you turn it on to avoid whipping air into your mixture. Use it in short bursts, blend a few minutes, then hand stir a few minutes, and so on.

Step 7. You will notice that the mixture will change and become thicker as you continue stirring. Continue until your mixture reaches trace stage. Tracing looks like a slightly thickened custard. It will support a drop, or your stir marks for several seconds. This isn't the best picture but if you look close you can see we are just starting to get a trace as it supports lines and drops of mixture from the end of my stick blender. Now is the time to add any Essential oils, or other additives such as poppy seeds or oatmeal if you want too. (Oatmeal will be too rough if you don't blend it up some first). If you add colorants, make sure they are compatible with the cold process soap method first. I hand stir these additives in then give it a quick blend with my stick blender for a few seconds to ensure they are well blended through the entire mixture.

Step 8. Once that is done I pour my raw soap into my molds, using a spatula to scrape every bit of it I can get out of the pot.

Step 9. You can use plastic wrap over your soap to prevent the ashen appearance it can get on top, but it doesn't hurt anything, it just detracts from the appearance of the soap. It can also be cut off later on too.

Step 10. I have found with milk soaps that they don't need as much insulation as other soaps, if any at all. If you are using plastic molds a towel can be set over them for a little insulation. The wooden molds I use seem to provide enough insulation themselves and so I don't cover them at all. How warm your house is probably plays a part too when it comes to insulating soaps. Let the molds set for 24 - 48 hours.

Step 11. You can now remove your soap from the mold. New soap like this has not had a chance to cure and get more mild with time, so it is a good idea to wear gloves. If it is a bit soft, give it an extra day to harden more. Then if you are using a log type mold you can cut your soap into bars. Set your soap bars in a dry, well ventilated room to cure for 4-6 weeks before use. Once it is cured, grab a bar and head to the shower...or bath...whichever you prefer.

Congratulations you just made a batch of cold process soap from scratch!

January 26, 2009

Soap Questions Answered

I was asked some questions about our goat's milk soap, so I wanted to take the time and answer them.

Alix asked: "Do you make your soap to sell retail, or just for family use?" Yes I do sell my soap! I started out several years ago just making it for my family and friends but recently branched out into selling homemade goat milk soap. Anybody that would like to know more can go to the soap page on my website for more info. Or just go to our farm website at www.kansasboergoats.com and look for the "Goat's Milk Soap" link. I have been recently caught off guard with a high number of orders, but I have been VERY busy making more soap to fill up our inventory again! I am hoping to get the whole shopping cart thing figured out soon for my website!

Patrice asked: "What recipe do you use?" I will post a very good recipe that I have used many times in the past that is a good recipe for beginners and makes a good bar of soap. Best of all, the ingredients can easily be found at Wal-Mart or your local grocery stores. I will try to do this tomorrow and I will include the basic instructions for making soap at home. :) ** Edited to add** Except for lye, that is not as easy to find as it once was and usually has to be bought online.

Joanna asked: "What technique do you use?" I use the cold process method. This is what I prefer but there are other methods too. Also thank you Joanna for posting what kind of camera you use! Your pictures are always so crisp and the colors so true on your blog!

I really want to thank everyone for the questions and nice comments you leave on my blog. I always really appreciate them!

LOL Claire! They do look like butter sticks in that picture! But they don't come with any extra calories! In real life they are a very pretty, light tannish cream color, not butter or cheese yellow! Really! :) Though the goat's milk and olive oil does give it a more cream color than true white but I guess I need to actually read the user's manual for my camera to see if I can adjust the way it takes pictures in the house. Of course I took a picture the other day of the dogs outside and it is making my Great Pyrenees dogs look yellow too. I guess as long as I have this camera I will be living in a mellow yellow world!

Lights Out Soap!

I took the latest batch of my homemade goat's milk soap out of the molds today! These are fragrance free logs, nothing extra added but good, natural soap. This soap is actually no where near as yellow as it appears in the picture, but my camera does funky things with the lighting in my house.

Speaking of lighting, I could have used a bit more of it while I was making this particular batch of soap! I like to have everything set out and ready to go before I start mixing my soap ingredients, it is easier, cleaner and if things start to move quickly towards trace for some reason everything is organized right where I want it. The one thing I did not have ready to go and never thought I would need was a flashlight!

I was right in the middle of making this batch of soap the other evening, I had everything in my pot and I was standing there with my gloves and goggles (lye safety you know) and my stick blender just mixing away when all of a sudden everything went black, can't see your hand in front of your face black. "Oh you have got to be kidding me!" I exclaimed.. (OK that isn't exactly what I said, but that is the kid friendly version) Of course my first thought was, "we did pay the electric bill, didn't we?" I don't know why that is always my first thought, we always pay our electric bill and our service has been notoriously unreliable in the past, but for some reason that thought always pops into my mind first.

Luckily after only standing in the dark for about 5 minutes the lights came back on and I was able to finish my batch of soap with no ill effects or further problems. I am just glad I wasn't in the middle of pouring it in the molds when the lights went out!

Butterfly Kisses

I am very flattered to report that I have been given the Butterfly Award by Alix at Casa Hice. If you have never read Alix's blog you should stop by, she is a gifted writer with a side splitting sense of humor everyone loves. I always look forward to reading her posts. Thank you Alix for choosing Goats in the Garden for this award!

Now for the rules of this award,

The Rules:

1. Put the logo on your blog.

2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.

3. Award up to ten other blogs.

4. Add links to those blogs on yours.

5. Leave a message for your awardees on their blogs.

I personally find it very difficult to choose just ten blogs for these awards when I am supposed to pass them on. So I will choose recipients not all at once, but as I identify great and deserving blogs.

I will start with these...

A Peek Inside Our World
I always enjoy reading Becky's posts about her family and life, her posts are always interesting and fun to read. Besides having a very cool blog of her own, she is always good and generous about commenting on other people's blogs.

All Natural Simple Life
Tonia is my neighbor, sort of..she is in the neighboring state of Missouri. I don't know how many goats and sheep she has that are expecting and having babies right now but she has posted lots of pictures of cute kids to tie me over until our goats start kidding. Everyday, I look forward to reading about her cows, sheep, goats, ducks, dogs and every other animals she has on her farm and seeing the beautiful farm pictures she posts.

Hidden Haven Homestead
Peggy has some of the most gorgeous goats I have seen and she fills her blogs with beautiful pictures of them! That is a cool blog in my book! She is also a nice person that always makes time to comment on others blogs as well.

Is this Heaven? No, this is Iowa!
Claire has a great blog and I always enjoy reading about her farm. She recently recued a goat and two sheep that were absolutely covered in burrs, besides giving these animals a loving home she has spent hours getting the burr covered sheep comfortable and burr free and I think that greatly deserves an award!

Loess Is More
Diane is another blogger in Iowa, but before you all start thinking I am just favoring people in Iowa for this award (I am not, hehe) check out her blog, it is great! She is a gifted photographer and one heck of a funny lady! I look forward to her posts because they always make me smile!

January 23, 2009

The Goats Want Paroled

You are probably wondering what these young goats did to get put in goat jail in the first place. Actually they didn't do anything, but since the bucks have been out in the different big pastures with our adult does for breeding, these young ladies had to be removed from the big goat pastures and penned up for their own good. That is because these are 9 month old doelings, the equivalent of teenage girls and in the same regard just because they are capable of getting pregnant and having kids, does not mean that they should until they are older. So goatie jail is birth control on our goat farm but before you start feeling too bad for them, "jail" is a large and comfortable 32'x36' pen with two shelters, comfy beds and all the hay they can eat.

Still, teenagers being what teenagers are they would much rather be out in the big pasture where the party was going on. I tried to explain to them that they could end up pregnant but they didn't care. They have all been hanging at the fence, wagging their little tails and dreamily looking out to the big pasture and to Joker the buck like he is the Brad Pitt of the goat world. Teenage hormones...better put two locks on that gate!
Be patient girls, the bucks will go back to their bachelor pad this weekend and you can go back out to the big pasture with your mothers. You girls will have to wait to start dating until this summer, when you are a little bit older, larger and more mature, then come fall you will have your own kids. Let's hope they don't run you as ragged as you did your own mothers!

January 21, 2009

Spring Fever

I have a bad case of it and I have been counting the days until the grass turns green again and the weather warms up. There is just something about everything being brown and cold that gives me a serious case of the blahs, I just am not a winter person...never have been. It does not help that I am seriously cold blooded and all it takes is a good, icy wind to get me to shaking like a stressed out Chihuahua and envying the geese flying south. Lucky ducks. Now Spring..that is my time of year! How do I love Spring, oh let me count the ways. Spring just seems to be the time of year when everything is coming back to life! The grass turns green, the sound of the leaves on the trees rustling with a warm breeze and the colorful flowers that brightens the spring day. My favorite part of springtime on the farm is the gift of new life...animal babies! It is a time of excitement and expectations, kidding time is my Christmas!

I have so many farm projects that are just waiting for some nicer weather. I have been planning out this year's vegetable garden in my head all winter. I had ordered a Burpee and Gurneys seed catalog and I wait for their arrival in my mailbox so I can flip through the colorful pages and plan out this years garden on paper and then order the seeds that will hopefully grow into a fruitful summer garden.

I also hope to get chickens this Spring! We have had all kinds of animals on the farm, but never chickens and I can't wait. It will be a new and exciting project for our farm. I have been reading all that I can on them, but I am also hoping my blogging friends will help me out if I have any chicken questions. While I have been counting the days until Spring I have also been watching the goat's bellies grow, they are not too big yet as they have a ways to go until kidding time but some are starting to show and I am looking forward to having goat kids on the farm again as much as anything. This will be the 7th year for welcoming newborn goat kids to the farm, but it doesn't matter how many years we do this, I never get tired of the goat kids! Come on Spring!

January 20, 2009

Bayla's Second Trip to the Vet Clinic

Two weeks ago we got one of our Livestock Guardian Dogs spayed. The surgery went well, but they did have to keep Bayla overnight. I hated that because I know being left in a strange place was probably traumatic for her. They wanted to see her again two weeks after the surgery so they could make sure she was healing OK and take her stitches out. This was done yesterday.

This was my husband taking her down to the car so we could go. I made a mental note that I really...really need to wash the car and suspenders might make a good birthday gift for my husband. I know, it is easy to joke about those without enough butt to hold their pants up when unfortunately I have always had more than enough butt to keep my own pants up...lucky me....eh..moving on...I don't think Bayla quite realizes where she is going yet.

Now she does! I think it is safe to say this is the moment she realized she might be going back to the vet. Poor girl! And in my defense I must point out we DO live on a gravel road, the dust is horrible and red cars show all that dust....or maybe at this point it would be easier to say all that dust shows some red car.

"Well, as long as I am in the car I might as well enjoy the ride, but I am still a little worried where we might be going!" It is 20 miles to the vet clinic, I did my best to keep Bayla calm and sooth her nerves, for some reason the windows being down even a crack made her more nervous and upset so we kept them up for her, but she was still nervous and when Bayla is nervous she gets gas, bad..cover your nose up with your shirt, eye watering gas. I did not know this until yesterday but I won't be forgetting it anytime soon. It was a long 20 mile drive with the windows up.

So we got to the vet's clinic, got a breath of fresh air and Bayla got her stitches removed. The vet said everything looks fine and there is not any problems. Bayla was a very good girl and behaved beautifully in the vet clinic, although she was clearly a bit nervous. That turned into utter joy when she walked out the doors to the car, she was obviously very happy to be going home. She was probably afraid she was going to get left there again, that makes me feel really bad but she thanked us with a gas free ride back home.

This is Bayla, very happy to be back home on the farm! We tried to reward Bayla's good behavior with a rare treat of a plain McDonald's cheeseburger when we were in town, but she didn't want it there or when we got home, maybe she read the nutrition information on their food. She got some fresh chicken later that evening and her father, Dreyfus got her cheeseburger. Dreyfus is our senior livestock guardian dog, he is an intelligent, experienced dog that has been around the block a few times and he is wise enough to know never to turn a cheeseburger down. Dreyfus savored his cheeseburger prize and Bayla rejoiced in being back home and back with her beloved goats and now the car needs aired out and washed.

January 19, 2009

My First Goat Video

I am sure nobody doubts just how much I like my goats, there is plenty of evidence of that since my photo albums and computer has more pictures of goats (and cats, dogs, horses etc) than people, but just in case anyone does I share with you the first video I have ever made. Guess what it is...goats! Actually it stars "Painted Rock" one of the farm's Boer does. She has been a curious girl ever since she was born right here on our farm. She always wants to know what is going on in her world and she was quite curious about what was going on this day. Trouble, Hope and Dot only get a few seconds of screen time, but they were rather bored with it all anyway. The protectors of the herd, our Great Pyrenees dogs Dreyfus and Bayla make a cameo, as you can see Bayla has recovered nicely from her surgery and is back at work! She will get her stitches out today or tomorrow.

January 15, 2009

The Girls Say Hello

Rock says "Wazzup!!"

Trouble just grins because she knows she is everyone's favorite goat.

Hope says "Put the camera down and get our supper!"

January 14, 2009

Brrr! Getting Ready for the Cold!

36° | 5°

20° | 5°

36° | 25°

45° | 23°

45° | 27°

I spent this morning getting things ready for a couple days of windy and cold weather since this evening the temperature is expected to fall into the 20's with 20-30 mile per hour winds and lows of only 5 above tonight. Then tomorrow is expected to be even colder with a high of only 20 with another 5 degree night Thursday, wind chills below 0 is expected as night falls. I am hoping the weather for the weekend holds true as I consider 45 pretty nice weather for this time of year.

I started by making sure all the ice-free buckets and stock tank heaters are in working order, then I filled the horses stock tank so I know she will have plenty of water until the weekend and I will only have to carry water for the goats. I put a thick layer of fresh straw bedding in all the animals shelters and sheds and blocked off as much of the open side of their sheds as I could and still allow them to come and go as they please. It is very important during cold and wet weather that goats have a good, draft free shelter where they can stay dry and get out of the wind.

Even though my goats will have 24/7 access to unfrozen water because of their ice-free buckets I will also bring them warm water twice a day because goats don't like to drink very cold water and may not drink enough, however they love warm water during these cold spells and will drink the bucket right down. This is also important for your bucks and wethers because they can be susceptible to urinary stones so it is important that they drink enough water, even when the weather is cold.

I also make sure all their hay feeders are full at all times because goats and other livestock need more food energy in cold weather to keep warm. If your goats don't have enough roughage, the pounds will melt off of them as they rob body fat to create energy for warmth. More total pounds of roughage can help to keep them warm, since the fermentation and breakdown of cellulose creates heat energy so it is especially important they get all the good quality hay they can eat in this kind of weather and some grain is a good idea as well.

January 13, 2009

Easy Chevon Enchiladas

Easy Chevon Enchiladas

1 lb. ground Chevon (goat meat)

1 small onion (chopped)

1 large can red sauce(enchilada sauce)

12 oz. package shredded cheddar cheese

1 (10 count) package 9" soft tortillas

Brown meat, with onions on medium

heat, drain and add half of red sauce and

half of cheese, mix well. Spread some red

sauce in bottom of 13 x 9 glass baking dish

(just enough to cover bottom)[if metal pan is

used, grease pan]

Lay out one tortilla and put about 3 Tbs of

mixture in center, roll up and place in dish.

Repeat until all mixture, and tortillas are


Spread remaining sauce over enchiladas

and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake in preheated oven @ 375 for 25 min

*Hamburger can of course be substituted for the ground chevon. Spanish rice on the side goes very well with this dish.

Sheep Games

Maybe you have housework to do or a tedious computer project to finish, but you are in the mood to procrastinate, let me help you. Here are three pointless but fun online sheep games to pass the time.


This game is fun, if you can get past the rather creepy, smiling sheep on pogo sticks.

Sheep Dash

How quick is your reaction time? Be quick to keep your sheep herd together, and shoot a tranquilizer dart in the butt of any would be escapees.

Sheep Thrills - Online Sheepdog Trial

Use your mouse to help the sheepdog keep those straying sheep in their pen, but don't get ran over by any bulls!

January 11, 2009

Lemonade Stand Award

And the Lemonade Stand Award goes to.....me!

Thank you so much to Hot Belly Mama for giving me this award, I am very flattered she thought of my blog. If you haven't visited her blog you should skip right over there and check it out, you will find well written posts and a great sense of humor, it is one of my favorite places to read.

Lemonade Stand Award

The Rules:

1. Put the logo on your blog or post
2. Nominate 10 blogs that show gratitude or great attitude or both
3. Be sure to link your nominees within your post
4. Let them know they have received this award by commenting on their blog
5. Share the love and link this post to the person whom you received your award from

And the awards go to (in no particular order at all).....
I read so many great blogs I spent a long time trying to choose just 10 blogs and it was no easy task but in trying to follow the rules of the award these blogs are written by people that all have great attitudes in everyday life and adversity too. I found I follow a lot of the same blogs that Hot Belly Mama does, so I did try to pick different ones than she did. These are some great blogs and I really encourage everyone to check them all out.

January 08, 2009

Little Puppies - Farm Photo of the Week

Newborn Great Pyrenees Puppies

This is an old picture of Bayla's mother Abby with her litter of puppies. These are Bayla's brothers and sisters and even though she is hard to see in this picture, if you look closely you can just see baby Bayla's bottom sticking out of the bottom of the pile. She was the one with the patch of color above her tail. She sure did grow a lot, she has outgrew her mother by a few pounds. Looking at her today it is hard to imagine she used to be small enough to fit in my hands.

Bayla Update - Everything is OK

The update on Bayla is she is home from the vet and everything seems to be OK. She came home from the vet clinic yesterday a little sore but in good spirits. The vet sent home some pain pills to give her once a day and instructions to keep her in the house for an additional 24 hours. Bayla is an outside dog that has always stayed with our goat herd so I figured we were in for a long and interesting night, but I have to report Bayla's stay in the house has been rather...not interesting, she has been the perfect, well-mannered lady in the house. There has not been a single accident to report, nor a single item chewed, no food stolen off the counter even though it was right there tempting her at eye level or even a coffee table cleared with her big wagging tail.

I figured Bayla's first stay in a house, especially one as small as ours would be akin to a bull in a china shop but somehow despite the fact she takes up half the floor space in most rooms, she has been graceful and very unobtrusive. The only excitement came when Bayla saw a mirror for the first time and took exception with the dog in the mirror on the bedroom door and barked and growled at it, but in her defense the more she growled at that dog the more the strange dog growled right back at her. Well-mannered...yes...genious...maybe not. She still hasn't quite got that mirror thing figured out but I guess she figured she put the mirror dog in its place well enough she doesn't have to say so much about it anymore as long as the mirror dog stays at the door of the room she is OK.

Bayla is calmly laying at my feet now, but I know she is ready to go back to her goats though, every time I let her outside to potty she goes to the backyard fence line where there is a pen where some young does are being kept and she lays down beside the fence where her goats are. Of course, I am incredibly biased but I am very impressed with the adaptability and work ethic of this dog, Bayla is really a great dog. She will go in a small pasture by the house with a few goats tomorrow so she can be where she is happiest and we can keep a close eye on her, then in two weeks she goes back to the vet's office for a post-surgery check-up and to get her stitches out.

*The picture is of sweet Bayla in the house last night, I did finally get a new camera...hooray! I forgot to use the flash though.

January 06, 2009

Bayla's Surgery Day

Today one of our four livestock guardian dogs is at the vet's clinic to be spayed. This would be my good girl, Bayla. She is a Great Pyrenees that was born and raised on our farm, her mother Abby and her father Dreyfus is also livestock guardians on our farm. Hopefully I will be able to pick her up before they close today, I have been worrying about her all morning. The vet said we could only bring her home today if she was awake enough, apparently they have a broken leg coming in today and will have to work her surgery around that so they might not get to her until the afternoon. If she is awake enough they will let us bring her home, but they were adamant that it was only on the condition she stays in the house for one day after surgery, otherwise she will have to stay there for an extra day.

This could be interesting, Bayla is an 112 lb dog that was born and raised in the goat pasture. She has never been in the house before, but I can't bear the thought of her spending a whole extra day in a strange place and in a cage so it looks like it might be an interesting night for us. Normally bringing a livestock guardian dog in the house breaks the cardinal rule of training them and I would never do it, but Bayla is over two years old now and she is well bonded with her goats and knows her job as well as any working dog could, so I think it will be OK this one day.

We do raise Great Pyrenees puppies on rare occasions, but it is quite rare as we have only raised two litters in the last 4 years, besides our dogs primary function has always been to protect our goats from the numerous coyotes, bobcats, hawks and large owls on our property, not to mention other roaming dogs...probably the biggest threat to livestock of all. After she is spayed we will no longer have to separate her from our male Pyrs and thus her important job in the big pasture with the goat herd twice a year. If we can just get past this one nerve wracking day.

January 04, 2009

Kidding Supplies Kit and Tips for the Big Day

This is a list of kidding supplies for goats. I keep these items in an easy to carry box as a kidding kit that keeps everything I may need in one place and I can carry it with me to wherever it is needed.

  1. Flashlight & batteries - For those night time deliveries.
  2. Latex gloves – In case you have to assist.
  3. OB Lube – In case you have to “go in” to assist.
  4. 7% iodine – To treat the umbilical cord to prevent navel ill.
  5. Small spray bottle or film container – for dipping or spraying the umbilical cord with iodine.
  6. Dental floss – To tie the umbilical cord, if necessary.
  7. Blunt nosed scissors – For cutting the umbilical cord if it is too long.
  8. Alcohol - to sterilize tools
  9. Baby nasal aspirator – To remove fluids from newborn’s mouth & nose, if necessary.
  10. 3 old but clean towels & 2 washcloths – To dry kids to prevent chill & dry hands.
  11. Bottle & Pritchard Nipple – In case you need to bottle feed, I have had the best luck getting newborns to use the Pritchard Nipple over others.
  12. Lamb / kid puller – In case of a kid that is positioned wrong. (Usually just your hand is enough to help a doe that needs help but it is a good idea to have one).
  13. Weak lamb syringe & feeding tube – To feed kids too weak to nurse.
  14. Small scale - I use this to get a birth weight on the kids.
  15. Feed bag or garbage bag – For picking up the afterbirth.
  16. Soap & warm water - for washing up in case you need to assist.
  17. Small notebook & Pen - to record birth weights, etc.
  18. Digital thermometer – To check the temperature of chilled kids.
  19. Quiet hair dryer – to warm a mildly chilled kid.
  20. Phone # of 2 goat knowledgeable veterinarians - in case of an emergency.

Most births go very well and there is little assistance needed, problems are quite rare but can happen so it is always a good idea to keep a close eye on does that are close to kidding.

We raise Boer goats and we expect our does to be good mothers who raise their own kids and they are all fantastic mothers; so other than to treat the umbilical cords and help dry a kid in cold weather, I interfere as little as possible. There typically isn’t much for me to do except watch the event, which I never get tired of doing. These are the supplies in my kidding kit, but keep in mind that breeders differ on what supplies and procedures they use. Weather, CAE prevention in dairy goats and other factors play a role in procedures and supplies needed for each farm. This is just the kidding kit that we use and what works well for us on our farm.

Some other kidding tips:

Always handle any goat, but especially bred does with care and in a manner that will not stress them.

Give your pregnant does their CD/T vaccination boosters 4 weeks before they kid to protect the mother and assure she passes those good antibodies on to her newborns. This is also a good time to check her for anemia, usually caused by worms. Pull down the lower eyelid & make sure it is a healthy dark pink color, not pale or white. An anemic goat may not produce milk like she should at kidding.

It is a very good idea to have frozen colostrum on hand for an emergency because it is absolutely imperative that the newborn kids get colostrum as soon after birth as possible. It contains the antibodies needed to help keep the newborn kid healthy. It is a good idea to milk out a little colostrum from a doe that has recently kidded after her kids have nursed, then freeze it in an ice cube tray and store the cubes in ziplock bags in the freezer for future emergency use.

After the kids are born, make sure the doe’s teats are not plugged so the kids can get their colostrum.

Give the doe some warm water with some molasses in it after she kids for extra energy and to help replace fluids, she will relish it.

Do not feed a severely chilled kid, warm them up first because a chilled kid cannot digest milk and will not want to nurse.

If you do have to go in to assist, it is a good idea to treat that doe with a round of Penicillin to prevent infection.

The doe should pass her afterbirth with-in 12 hours of kidding, if she does not a vet should be consulted. NEVER pull the afterbirth out of a doe as this can result in serious damage to the doe, let her expel it naturally.

Deworm the doe the day after she kids; this is a time when worms can get out of hand because of stress and hormonal changes that result in a dramatic rise in worm eggs.

And last but not least, take some pictures and enjoy the event, it is the best and most exciting part of raising goats!

*The picture is of one of my Boer does "Nifty" kidding last June. She had a single buckling. She was a first time mother at the time, but you can see she knew just what to do and is a very attentive and great mother.

January 02, 2009

New Year Goals

Most people make resolutions for the new year, I have decided to make goals. Resolutions, goals or whatever you want to call them are more obtainable when they are specific, realistic and have a time table. For example, it is better to set a goal to "Lose 10 lbs by March 1st" than to just set a random goal of "Lose weight". According to the experts the best goals are those that are backed up with a specific plan, such as "Lose 10 lbs by March 1st by keeping my calories below 1,500 a day.

I can be a bit obsessive, especially when it comes to list making. It would be quite easy for me to sit down and write 3 pages of goals I want to accomplish, until it turned into a huge and overwhelming "to-do" list. For those that live on a farm, we all know those are never-ending and that isn't what I want to accomplish here. So I decided to keep my list as short and specific as possible while still being able to make big changes in the New Year.

These New Year goals of mine need to be about the important things to me, the things that will really help my family, myself and our farm. I have come up with my following goals for 2009.

1. Continue my education by taking more college classes this year.
2. Improve my health and save money by drinking no more than 1 can of pop per day and at least 8 glasses of water per day, starting now.
3. Plant a large garden this year to save money and improve health with lots of fresh veggies. (This is something I have always done each year and did not do last year, a mistake I want to correct this year.)
4. Finish the repair and remodel of the old farm house so we can move into it this year.
5. Build a chicken coop and keep a small flock of chickens to be more self-sufficient.
6. Reconnect with family and friends I have lost touch with by calling at least one person or writing one letter per week. Do not let being busy get in the way of doing this.
7. Build up a soap inventory, update my website and write out a business plan to be able to better sell my soap and lotion this year.
8. Go to at least 2 farmer's markets per month throughout the summer to help promote our farm products.
9. Less is More: Sell or Freecycle items (clutter) that has not been used in the past year.
10. Learn at least 3 new, important skills this year (will get more specific on this one later).

This may not be a complete list of my goals for the new year. I plan on putting more thought into this and adding to my goals as needed, but this is a good, basic start for hopefully a great year in 2009. So what are your New Year's Resolutions for 2009?